Oasis of peace and salvation

Travel

Oasis of peace and salvation

A place where Brahma sat for penance, a pond hiding a thousand sages and pristine beaches calling out to your soul, Koteshwara has many stories to tell. We only have to listen, writes Kushal V R.

The coastal region of Karnataka often referred to as Parashurama Kshetra (Srishti) or the land reclaimed from the sea by the great sage Parashurama, is home to many pilgrimage centres. Of these, seven are considered to be the main mukthi sthalas (places for attaining salvation). One such place is the Kotilingeshwara temple located in Kundapura Taluk, Udupi district.

Standing majestically with its inspiring coastal temple architecture and grandeur, the temple is easily recognisable from a distance as one walks down the temple street. Nearing the compound, one cannot help but be impressed by its sheer magnificence.

As with other places, this too has many stories associated with it. One of the stories is that Lord Brahma performed penance here after installing a linga and was blessed with darshan of Lord Shiva while the other story mentions 1,000 sages performing penance and achieving the Lord’s darshan. The main deity here is Lord Shiva in the form of a linga. Below the linga peetha (pedestal) is a well containing 1,000 small submerged lingas. While one story infers these to be sages who took refuge under the Lord’s blessing, the other story is that Brahma himself installed the Kotilinga form. However, since they are all submerged, only the main linga is visible from the sanctum sanctorum.

The temple compound is divided into two parts — the inner core and the outer periphery. The main temple structure situated in the middle forms the inner core. In addition to the main deity, Kotilingeshwara, it also houses other deities like Parvathi, Ganesha and Subrahmanya. The outer periphery includes shrines dedicated to Anjaneya and Venkataramana among others. The entire premises is well maintained.
Located close by is the temple pond known as Kotitheertha. Said to have been created from the holy water of Lord Brahma’s kamandala (water pot), this pond received much attention a few years back when, as part of a desilting and renovation exercise, a number of historical and religious artefacts like statues, coins and ornaments etc. were discovered in the lake bed during the dredging process.

Spread over four acres, this pristine water body is a sight to behold and its tranquility has a soothing effect on the visitor. It is also considered to be auspicious for devotees to take a dip in the pond before proceeding for darshan at the temple. Due to this, the pond has become an important part of the rituals undertaken during the annual car festival, the Koteshwara Kodi habba, where many devotees, from far-off places, come to seek blessings of the Lord. The pond can be approached by steps on all four sides and has a small mantapa at the centre. The fishes in the pond add to the delight of the children. If you looking to have some fun, then the nearest places are the Beejadi and Kodi beaches. Spread over a vast coastline, these interconnected beaches, with their fine sands and inviting waters, offer relaxation and joy to both children and adults. Being relatively unknown, there isn’t much crowd — the perfect place to spend some quiet time. Further up the Beejadi beach is the Kodi beach which gets its name literally from the Kannada word, meaning shore. Don’t miss the lovely sunset here. The most interesting sight here, however, is further up the beach where the river Pancha Gangavalli or locally known as Gangolli merges with the Arabian sea. A road running parallel to the beach leads directly to the estuary. With a little help from locals one can easily identify the location. Swimming here, however, is risky as the water is said to be very deep at this point. But it makes for an ideal spot to gaze at the calm river emptying quietly into the raging sea. A few lucky souls can even spot a flock of peacocks wandering aimlessly on the beach.

How to get there

Koteshwara is about 6 km from Kundapura and 35 km from Udupi and is situated on the NH-17 (NH-66). Local buses are regularly available from both places. The bus stop is located on the highway and one has the option of either hiring an auto or walking to the temple which is about a kilometre away.

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